Thursday, February 25, 2021

Italian diplomat killed in attack on UN column


The ambassador, bodyguard and driver were traveling in a UN column traveling in the troubled eastern part of Congo-Kinshasa when it was suddenly attacked near Goma.

The ambassador, 43-year-old Luca Attanasio, was operated on at a UN hospital in Goma on Monday morning, but his life could not be saved. Attanasio’s bodyguard, 30-year-old Vittorio Iacovacci, also died in the attack, as did one of the drivers, Mustapha Milambo, Reuters reports.

Pictures of a pale and lifeless Attanasio, who was traveling in a military jeep, quickly spread on social media after the attack, which took place at 09:00 Swedish time.

“It was with enormous shock and sadness that I received the news that our Congolese ambassador and a carabinieri (military police) have been killed,” the Italian Foreign Minister said in a statement.

“Even if we have very few details about the attack, we will not spare any effort to shed light on the events.”

No group has said yet stand behind the attack, but the Congolese-Kinshasa Interior Ministry blames the Hutumili group Democratic Forces for Rwanda Liberation (FDLR).

The FDLR is one of several militant groups active in the eastern part of Congo-Kinshasa, which borders Uganda and Rwanda. FDLR is one of the militia groups behind the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and has continued to harass residents and visitors in the area.

In 2018, the FDLR kidnapped two British tourists who visited the Virunga National Park, which is home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The tourists were liberated after a few days, but the national park was closed for almost a year.

According to Reuters, Congo-Kinshasa Foreign Minister Marie Ntumba Nzeza has promised that the country will do “everything to find out who is behind this heinous murder.”



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